Yahoo! News Photo Staff

Returning home — Panhandle residents rebuild lives after Hurricane Michael

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https://www.yahoo.com/news/returning-home-panhandle-residents-rebuild-slideshow-wp-203026229.html

Missing relatives and worries that looters are just outside the door. Dirty clothes. Hours-long lines for gasoline, insurance adjusters, food and water. No power, no air conditioning, no schools, no information and little real improvement in sight.

Daily life is a series of fears and frustrations, both large and small, for thousands of people living on the edge, more than a week after Hurricane Michael flattened thousands of square miles in the hurricane zone of the Florida Panhandle.

With power still out in much of the Panhandle and thousands of buildings destroyed or damaged by Michael, almost nothing is normal. Even simple tasks are difficult or impossible.

Driving times are doubled or tripled because roads are clogged with police and fire vehicles, utility trucks, returning residents and people seeking help. Lines are long outside a discount store where more than two dozen insurance, financial services and cellphone companies have set up in a temporary village of open-sided tents erected on asphalt.

Unseasonably warm temperatures in the 80s are adding to the misery because so few people can cool down with air conditioning. Bottled water is plentiful at roadside aid stations; ice is another matter.

Spotty cellphone service leaves those most vulnerable with little information to help them get by. Residents in Panama City eagerly ask for information about what happened 20 miles away in devastated Mexico Beach, and for tips on finding pharmacies, coin-operated laundries and stores that might sell batteries to power flashlights with fading beams. (AP)

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Bela (L) and Jaques Sebastiao begin the process of cleaning up their home after it was heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael, on Oct. 17, 2018, in Mexico Beach, Fla. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


Tonya Plair, 50, sorts emergency goods being distributed in the Gulf County Beaches Fire Station, which is also used as a polling place, in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Port Saint Joe, Fla., Oct. 17, 2018. (Photo: Terray Sylvester/Reuters)


Amy Hay, an employee of the the Driftwood Inn for 18 years, sifts through debris for valuables in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. (Photo: Gerald Herbert/AP)


Nancy Register cries in her vehicle after losing her home to Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. She said she doesn’t know how they are going to make it through this and that they only have money to last them four more days. (Photo: Gerald Herbert/AP)


Robert Edmonson rests after pulling a dolly through sand as he helps retrieve belongings from his brother-in-law’s destroyed home in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. (Photo: Gerald Herbert/AP)


From left, Mark McEntyre, 38, of Headland, AL, Erin Crawson, 38, of Dothan, AL, and Lindsey Crawson, 37, of Birmingham, AL, wear equipment to protect themselves from mold while cleaning their house damaged by Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Oct. 16, 2018. (Photo: Terray Sylvester/Reuters)


Contractors play a game of basketball against residents in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Springfield, Fla., Oct. 16, 2018. (Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters)


Chris Bailey holds hot food prepared by Operation BBQ Relief and distributed by 50 Star Search and Rescue following Hurricane Michael in Panama City Beach, Fla., Oct. 15, 2018. (Photo: Brian Snyder/Reuters)


Christina Amanda, right, and Connie Huff, wait for an insurance adjuster as they look for their possessions at the site of their destroyed home in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018. (Photo: Gerald Herbert/AP)


People wait in line in the hot sun for gas for over three hours in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael in Callaway, Fla., Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. (Photo: David Goldman/AP)


Lorrainda Smith sits with her 2-day-old son, Luke, as she contemplates with her husband, Wilmer Capps, right, sleeping in their truck in a parking lot after their home was damaged from Hurricane Michael and they were told a nearby shelter was closed, in Panama City, Fla., Monday, Oct. 15, 2018. “One day we had it all, the next we had nothing,” said Smith. “This is not what I thought I’d be bringing him back to.” The family eventually received a police escort to a nearby hospital for assistance as a nightly curfew prohibits the public from being out past dark. (Photo: David Goldman/AP)


A member of the Florida Air National Guard helps to remove items from the home of a fellow Airman after it was damaged by Hurricane Michael on Oct. 18, 2018 in Mexico Beach, Fla. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)


Kelly Simpson salvages items from her Barefoot Surf shop after hurricane Michael damaged the building on Oct. 17, 2018 in Mexico Beach, Fla. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)


A preserved F-15A Eagle damaged by Hurricane Michael is pictured in Callaway, Fla., Oct. 12, 2018. (Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters)


Tasha Hughes, bathes her daughter, Madison, 4, as Jeffrey Dumich holds a flashlight outside their room at the damaged American Quality Lodge where they continue to live without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, in Panama City, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. Simply getting through the day is a struggle at the low-rent motel where dozens of people are living in squalor amid destruction left by the hurricane. (Photo: David Goldman/AP)


Samantha, right, and Rudy Martinez, survey the damage as they return home for the first time since Hurricane Michael hit Mexico Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018. (Photo: David Goldman/AP)


A search and rescue team works in homes destroyed by Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Oct. 16, 2018. (Photo: Terray Sylvester/Reuters)


Wes Allen, Jr., from left, sits with his father Wes Allen, Sr., sister Alison, and mother Vicki outside their room at a damaged motel Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in Panama City, Fla., where many residents continue to live in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Many residents rode out the storm and have no place to go even though many of the motel’s rooms are uninhabitable. (Photo: David Goldman/AP)


The Wood family begins cleanup efforts among the debris of their damaged home from hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Photo: David Goldman/AP)


Crystal Williams receives food from the Red Cross outside a damaged motel, Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2018, in Panama City, Fla., where many residents continue to live in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. (Photo: David Goldman/AP)


Mark Drake, 55, of Tallahassee, helps remove a stuffed blue marlin from a home damaged by Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Oct. 16, 2018. (Photo: Terray Sylvester/Reuters)


Josh Starnes collects water from the gulf to flush toilets at his damaged home from hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Sunday, Oct. 14, 2018. (Photo: David Goldman/AP)


A “MAGA” sign is written on a boat damaged by Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Fla., Oct. 16, 2018. (Photo: Terray Sylvester/Reuters)